Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Worship from a Kid's Perspective

             I asked my daughter, Lydia, if she would be a guest writer. She wants to share about Wednesday Worship, and I thought you would enjoy to hear about it from her perspective. So without further ado, here is Lydia!
Just in case you were wondering, I’m only in third grade, and as she said in my introduction I’m going to write about Wednesday Worship. The service starts at 5:15 and ends at 5:45. The kids get to do most of the jobs such as lighting the candles and taking the offering. Also reading scripture. We started this November 2nd. We usually have about 20-30 people there. I like Wednesday service a lot because it’s not like regular service and I and my brother and other kids get to help. I like stretching to the music at the beginning of the service. I think it’s helpful in education of Jesus and if you are reading scripture, it can also help with your reading skills. It can teach you manners too because you have to be respectful in the sanctuary.
               There’s a lot of our friends there. There’s people who are new at church and people who go there on Sundays. There are more kids than adults but they all have a grown up to be with. I met most of them through KICK.
               We have a meal at the end. We have some parents cooking. Sometimes their kids are in service. On KICK days the kids will be in KICK while they are in the kitchen. At suppertime you might sit by family or you might sit by a friend. On the table there is a card with questions. You can ask your friends or family the questions on the card. One question is “How is you soul doing? Or how was your day?”
At this point Zeke chimed in and this is what he had to say. I like to stretch because I get to move around. If we are doing the Acts prayer, we start with A. A is for adoring God, so say something you adore about God. C is for Confess. T is for Thanksgiving. S is for Supply. That’s when we ask God to supply our needs. We use colored sticks and everybody prayed something. I tried to pray for yellow so I tried to pray for everyone. My friends Tripper and Cash come. Makaylee is my friend to and she comes. Kadence came to play at my house and stayed for worship.
Lydia finished with this: I hope the service grows and I hope families that come are not just KICK families or families who come on Sunday. I hope some of our neighbors that we invited come and I hope other people would invite people we don’t know.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Not a Mistake: Calling and Gender

            I want to talk about being an American Christian…while simultaneously being a female and a leader. We have a problem in American Christianity, that while we have come to terms that God thinks slavery is bad, we still believe that God thinks women are not as good as men. We don’t think they should be outspoken and we definitely don’t think they should tell us what to do. In the secular world, this is called sexism. In the Christian world, this is called theology.
               While there have been thousands of theologians and books written on how this is consistently opposed by the women God called into leadership throughout scripture* and in the early church, American Christians still like to throw it in female leaders faces. We are told consistently that we are not qualified because of our chromosomes. I would like to share my witness of what this has looked like in my ministry and what transformation would look like.
               I was called by God into pastoral ministry when I was in junior high. I had heard from my mother, a CPA, and my school over and over that I could be anything I wanted to be. While this seemed like an awfully important job, if others could do it, I surely could. After all, since early elementary, I had been placed as the leader for every group and project possible. I wasn’t afraid of stages, and could already speak and sing in front of a crowd. It was a calling that made sense.
               From that beginning, almost all the push back I have received about my career choice has been because of my gender. It started with my Baptist friends pointing out that God didn’t call women and I must have a pride issue to think God was calling me. It was followed by my pastor refusing to mentor me because I was too much of a liability. Then, I watched Christians I trusted at my church change churches because the new pastor’s wife served as pastor of another church. Did you hear that? It was even that they were hiring a female. It was that his wife couldn’t come to events. 
               When I insisted on a private Christian university so I could start preparing right away, my wise mother encouraged me to choose the university affiliated with a denomination that ordained women. Even within that college, my closest female friends were confident God could not have called me because I was a female. Perhaps as a Christian Education major, or a youth pastor, but God did not call women to be lead pastors. In my ministry courses, there were two females per thirty students. The men would not talk to the females because surely we were there to become a pastor’s wife, and they weren’t ready for that kind of commitment.
               Upon leaving college, no one would hire me. The reason? Both my denomination and that of my school were “Old Boys Clubs.” After 9 months of searching, I agreed to start applying as a co-pastor with my husband. I was careful to put his name first, but when it was time to preach, I took the reins. Best foot forward.
At our first church, a leader in the church told my husband he need to do a better job of silencing me. In our second church, when other pastors in the area asked why I wasn’t in their denomination, I said, “I’m female. You wouldn’t hire me.” I have fought to follow my call in 3 denominations. As the first female pastor in a church, I have been told, “I didn’t think I would like a female pastor, but you’re alright.” Well, thank you. I try. I’ve been introduced, only to have parishioners add, “yeah, my pastor has boobs” and my husband be introduced and the parishioner explain, “no, my pastor is a woman. You thought the pastor was gay, didn’t you?”
I get it. I am female. I have spent many a time in prayer asking God if he may have made a mistake in either my call or my gender. He always says no to both. Not a mistake. I have to work harder and do better than a man and still constantly have my authority questioned.
The first time I got push back because of gender, my mother grumbled, “I thought I fought this fight for her already.” I tell my daughter, just like my mother taught me, that she can be and do anything with her life. My prayer is that that statement is truer for her than it has been for me.
For it to become true, the church has got to change. We have got to stop taking scripture out of context. We have got to be a less sexist church. God wants to transform us. Why are we so resistant? Here are some simple things as a Christian you can do to aid this transformation. 

1.      Stop believing and teaching your children that women are incapable of leadership.
2.      Hire your pastor according their calling and gifts and graces rather than their gender.
3.      Don’t assume all pastors must be male because yours is.
4.      When you are introduced to someone’s female pastor, don’t call her the pastor’s wife.
5.      Be supportive of Pastor’s husbands.
6.      When you’re nervous about the new pastor because their different than your last one, let it be about all the ways they are different, not just their gender. Actually, stop worrying and trust God. How about that?
7.      When a female pastor does something you don’t agree with, don’t connect it to her gender. All pastors do things you don’t agree with. Let it go.
8.      Don’t treat any pastor differently because of their gender.
9.      Point out blatant sexism for what it is and be a catalyst of change.
10.   Don’t pull Bible verses out of their context. Research. Read the Bible as a whole. Pray.

*Women Leaders in the Bible
1.     Abigail – wife of the wicked Nabal, who made peace with David against her husband’s wishes.
2.     Achsah (or Acsah) – daughter of Caleb. When Caleb promised her to Othniel in marriage, she requested that he increased her dowry to include not only land, but springs of water as well.
3.     Anna the Prophetess – aged Jewish prophetess who prophesied about Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem.
4.     Athaliah – Queen of Judah during the reign of King Jehoram, and later became sole ruler of Judah for five years.
5.     Claudia - greeted by Paul the Apostle.
6.     Daughters of Philip the Evangelist. Four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Acts
7.     Deborah #2 - Prophetess and the fourth Judge of pre–monarchic Israel
8.     Dorcas, also known as Tabitha. Disciple in Joppa. Known for doing good and helping poor. Made clothes for widows. Raise from death be Peter. Acts.
9.     Elisabeth – Mother of John the Baptist and the wife of Zacharias. 1st person to recognize Mary’s pregnancy was holy. Luke
10.  Esther (also known as Hadassah) – Queen of the Persian Empire. Saved God’s people from complete annihilation. Esther
11.  Eunice- Mother of Paul’s apprentice Timothy. Taught her son, who would become an evangelist, the Jewish faith even though her husband was gentile. Acts, Timothy
12.  Hammolekheth – possibly ruled over portion of Gilead.
13.  Hannah – A prophetess and citizen of Jerusalem. Mother of Samuel. 1st Samuel
14.  Hogla (or Hoglah) – One of the five daughters of Zelophehad who fought and won the right to inherit their deceased father's property. Joshua
15.  Huldah – Prophet. II Kings, II Chronicles
16.  Jael – Heroine who killed Sisera to deliver Israel from the troops of king Jabin. 1 Kings
17.  Jehosheba (or Jehoshebeath/Josaba) - saved her nephew Jehoash from massacre. II Kings
18.  Joanna - One of the women who went to prepare Jesus' body for burial. Luke
19.  Jochebed – Mother of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Refused to kill infant Moses again law of land. Exodus, Numbers
20.  Julia -member of the imperial court and therefore among the saints to be found in Caesar’s household. Greeted by Paul. Romans
21.  Junia (or Junias) - Called "outstanding among the apostles" by Paul. Went to prison for sharing the Gospel.  Romans
22.  Lois, grandmother of Saint Timothy. II Timothy
23.  Lydia of Thyatira – Brought her whole house the good news of Jesus Christ.
24.  Martha – Disciple of Jesus. Luke, John
25.  Mary – Mother of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts,
26.  Mary the sister of Martha. Anointed Jesus before his death. Luke, John
27.  Mary – First to share the news of the risen savior.
28.  Mary Magdalene – Disciple of Jesus Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
29.  MiriamMoses' sister and leader of Hebrew people. Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, I Chronicles
30.  Noadiah - prophetess. Nehemiah
31.  Persis - a "woman who has worked hard in the Lord" whom Paul the Apostle greeted. Romans
32.  Phoebe – A deaconess of the church of Cenchrea. Romans
33.  Priscilla – wife of Aquila, and missionary partner to Paul the Apostle. Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Timothy
34.  Puah - one of two midwives who saved the Hebrew boys from annihilation. Exodus
35.  Queen Vashti –Refused to dance for drunk husband and friends. Esther
36.  Rahab – of Jericho. Prostitute who aided Hebrew spies. Joshua, Matthew,
37.  Ruth – Ruth saved her mother-in-law from starving and her family line by marrying Boaz. Her son is the direct ancestor of King David and Jesus. Ruth, Matthew
38.  Salome- a follower of Jesus present at his crucifixion as well as the empty tomb. Mark
39.  Sheerah – founded three towns. Descendant of Ephraim. I Chronicles
40.  Shiphrah – one of two midwives who saved the Hebrew boys. Exodus
41.  Susanna - a woman who was nearly sentenced to death due to false adultery accusations before being saved by Daniel. Daniel
42.  Susanna– Supported Jesus out of her own means. Luke
43.  Tamar– revealed Judah’s sin and hypocrisy. Fought for her right to be part of Judah’s family.
44.   Tabitha (Acts 9:36) – AKA 'Dorcas' from Joppa, Tabitha was “always doing good and helping the poor.”           
45.   Woman at the Well- Spoke about Jesus to her whole community and prepared the way for him to speak. John